French President Emmanuel Macron has called for a de-escalation in the European debate on relocation quotas and reforms to the Dublin agreement. He has suggested there should be EU financial support for towns hosting refugees.
In a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Macron warned that divisions between democracy and authoritarianism in Europe were becoming like a "civil war." European integration, Macron stressed, was the only way to regain sovereignty in the face of global challenges, including migration.
The European Parliament, Macron argued, should make progress on migration issues before the end of its current term in 2019. There is a "poisoned debate" going on in Europe over the relocation of refugees from states with high numbers of refugees to countries less affected by migration movements. A further contentious issue is the controversial Dublin regulation. An overhaul of the EU asylum system has been left stagnating for years, due to disagreement over the legitimacy of the distribution system.
EU funding for towns and cities
Macron‘s reform plans include a European programme that "gives direct financial assistance to local authorities who host and integrate refugees," according to German news agency DPA.
The proposal is similar to previous plans by the German government that suggested making migrant reception a criterion for the distribution of EU structural and regional funds. This would mean that some Eastern European states, that currently profit most from receiving these funds, would receive less assistance. Hungary or Poland, for example, have refused to take in refugees within the relocation scheme, AFP news agency reports.
Macron's speech comes at a time when he has come under fire from his own party for his controversial immigration and asylum bill, which seeks to speed up asylum applications and expedite deportations. The bill currently being discussed in French Parliament would also allow the prosecution of people helping illegal immigrants to enter or stay in France, according to France24.